How do you parse your relationship between an energy auditor and a AC service company? 

This is an excellent question. This is a tumultuous time in the HVAC service industry. For decades, and in the minds of many homeowners today, a variety of traditional myths dictated suspect solutions to home comfort issues. Make sure you know these.

But the quest to save energy has given impetus to actually using building science and home performance testing to design and implement solutions to home structural and human comfort issues.

Your home is a collection of components and mechanical systems which must be analyzed as a system and you should accept no easy or glib answers. We will be constantly working on this website to clarify the issues for you of which you need to be aware.

And so progressive HVAC service companies and independent energy auditors are both plying the trade dealing with issues of building performance. There might be some difference in the conversation starting space, but you will find overlap here if the HVAC company is up to date with the recommendations of the ACCA – Air Conditioning Contractors of America, which understands the critical interlink of the existing home envelope- ability to stifle air leaks, insulation and solar loading, etc. with the critical design of the proper mechanical system for your home. If your HVAC company is not addressing these kinds of issues, well, maybe it is time to hit the pause button and reevaluate. Dealing with home performance issues are in the building code in your local area of Texas.  Let that sink in. Of course, this is Texas, and you are relying on your own wits to parse action creating value from talk. Actually testing is a great way to verify and not depend on trust.

However, the exact expert you use will be based on whom you trust for a good share of what will happen.  All issues mentioned here are important and we need to beware the man with the hammer who sees all problems as a nail.

Make sure you understand any special interests impacting your choice of professional. You need to know when your contractor or consultant has a financial connection to your potential project and how that might influence events. We talk about this issue here.

So let’s look forward at some actual roles

There are issues here that are the bailiwick of the HVAC technician. Other issues need to be dealt with by an energy assessor who might be working as a sub for a HVAC service company. It does not matter, just do not let someone glib turn you away from fundamentals and sell you something that makes a great sale but is not in your best interest as a consumer.

You need a trusted HVAC tech for regular maintenance of Mechanical Equipment.

You will need to depend on your trusted HVAC technician to help you stay abreast of how well your HVAC equipment is doing longevity and performance wise. HVAC mechanical systems are sophisticated and highly tuned pieces of machinery under constant stress of load bearing mechanical motion and the stresses of heating and cooling. They need regular attention. You need to understand the merits of a regular maintenance plan. LINK

But an energy assessment of your home is a critical part in the design of your next HVAC system.

It doesn’t matter who does it but an assessment needs to be done, and the results integrated into the design of your next HVAC system strategy. Making sure air leaks are minimized, and  insulation levels are optimized and any issues with solar heat gain are addressed. These critical  structural defects must be removed, before you invest in HVAC systems because the heat load and  cooling load directly impact the optimal design configuration for your home.  Proper design impacts the effectiveness of your system, your comfort level and the increased value of your smart investment in your HVAC system.

You must choose your expert to help with duct issues.

You also need to choose the expert, HVAC service company or energy assessment to understand how well your duct system is performing. There are lots of issues with ducts which too often get ignored.

related: Have you already taken an exploratory adventure into your attic to look at your ducting? or maybe the ducts are in the crawlspace? Crawlspaces have their own challenges for you.

You will also depend on your trusty HVAC technician to test your differential temperatures from the heating source- your air handler to the temperature of the air delivered to the vents of your home. This is a critical measure of insulation in the ducts and is also a function of the ability of air to travel effectively through the duct system.

Air balance is a big issue too. Proper air flows are essential to keep you comfortable and to properly handle moisture issues in your home. We talk about air balance issues when we talk about how experts assess the actual HVAC system.

We have not really given any definitive answers about whom to call here, but tried to outline some critical issues that need proper attention. The actual layers of expertise in these matters crosses over between technical approaches, but the fundamentals must be addressed and do not let anyone give you short shrift on topics that lay at the peripheries of their prime focus.  We discuss the issue- just whom should you call with a comfort problem here and you get to parse these issues yourself.

We talk through a useful process for deciding when to upgrade an air conditioner here. LINK

Do you have a question? Do you have an opinion? Feel free to add it below.

Stu Langley

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